Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Societies and firangs just don’t mix

Read it at the Hindustan Times

Mumbai, May 11, 2010

I’ve lived in two housing societies in Mumbai. And both tried to kick me out on the street. A housing society, as I had always understood, is just a residential complex with flats. And the point is, for everyone, to have access to its utilities, help keep crime at bay, make sure the mail is delivered and so on. But in Mumbai, it is so much more. Here a housing society is an association of people with similar interests. There are Muslim societies, vegetarian societies, wealthy societies where every kid goes to The Cathedral and John Connon School and so on.

In the past year-and-a-half, both the societies I’ve lived in have shared the same interest: to preserve that ever-elusive term ‘Indian culture’ in their housing complex, in any way they could. My first landlord sat me down before signing the lease and asked if I was loose, and whether I’d